What is workplace innovation? And how do you create a system of working practices that leads to high performance and high quality of working life?


What is The Fifth Element? Find out what all the buzz is about in our film below:






 

The Fifth Element was created precisely to help organisations of all types answer these questions. It builds on in-depth analysis of literally hundreds of research articles and case studies, as well as on much practical experience of stimulating and supporting workplace innovation.

The way we organise and manage our workplaces is vital to the future of our economy and its ability to compete in a fast-changing world.

Workplace practices affect productivity, innovation and customer service. They have a major influence on our health, well-being and engagement.

Research from Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden and the US shows substantial performance premiums in firms that systematically involve and empower employees. Compared with firms using traditional workplace methods, productivity was 20-60% higher while turnover and sickness fell by over 20%.

Why workplace innovation matters

The Fifth Element offers a practical, evidence-based approach to understanding workplace innovation practices as well as their impact on performance and working life. It has found many applications across Europe.

The Fifth Element describes the enabling, responsive and innovative culture that is so deeply embedded in some organisations. Such a culture is not the product of an initiative or a leadership development programme. It is only created when each of the other four Elements are in place – a system of mutually reinforcing practices.

So what are the four tangible elements that combine to create the essence of an innovative, engaging workplace? Firstly it’s the individual employee’s job and team. Secondly it’s the structure of the organisation as a whole, and thirdly about creating opportunities for reflection and improvement. Finally it’s about hearing the employee’s voice in both strategic and operational decisions. These are like the four elements that make up our world: Earth, Fire, Water and Air.

But it is when these elements combine that something remarkable begins to happen. This is The Fifth Element, the buzz you get in a workplace where employees at every level use and develop their knowledge, experience and creativity to the full, where employees come to work to improve the organisation as well deliver their functional tasks in the best possible way.

This is workplace innovation.

Author: Peter Totterdill (updated March 2016) 

 

We’re continually updating The Fifth Element pages in the EUWIN Knowledge Bank as well as adding new films and case studies. Share your experiences with us!

 

 

One of the most significant obstacles to employee involvement and participation is partial change – a failure to recognise that organisations are made of interdependent parts that either nurture or obliterate innovative ways of working.

The Fifth Element focuses on the organisation as a whole system.


Download 'Your Guide to Workplace Innovation'

What are they saying about The Fifth Element?

Tom Francis, Saint-Gobain

Olivia Carlton, Transport for London

Philip Gibbs, GSK

Mark Wightman, Red Gate Software

Why workplace innovation matters